GASTONIA, N.C. A Gaston County man is home on house arrest as a jury ponders the first day of testimony in his murder trial.
Mark Carver is accused of murdering 20-year-old Irina Yarmolenko in 2008. Her body was found next to her car in a remote area along the Catawba River. Police say she was suffocated.
During opening statements Gastonia County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hamlin told jurors that Mark Carver committed a crime of opportunity. She said that Carver and his now-deceased codefendant Neal Cassada killed the UNC Charlotte student by strangling her with a bungee cord and strings from her hooded sweatshirt. The state also said that police found DNA from both men in and on Yarmolenko s car.
The defense countered by telling jurors that the state has charged an innocent man and neither man s DNA was found on the items that police say killed Yarmolenko.
Later in the day several witnesses gave jurors a timeline of Yarmolenko s last day, which included a trip to the bank and Goodwill, an act of kindness before her tragic death.
A hushed jury watched video of Yarmolenko making a donation to Goodwill, just hours before jet skiers would find her lifeless body along the banks of the Catawba River.
I was about knee-deep in the water and I was looking, I was very leery, testified Dennis Lovelace, who found Yarmolenko s body. I eased up onto the bank, maybe about a foot, enough to look and see that she had a rope around her neck.
The defense asked both jet skiers if police ever asked them for a DNA sample. Both said no.
Carver faces life in prison if he is convicted.